Temple Under Investigation for Title IX Compliance Following Athletic Cuts Announcement

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Since the December announcement that 7 varsity sports are on the chopping block, Temple University is now the subject of a federal investigation regarding its Title IX Compliance.

This investigation followed a complaint of possible gender equality issues to the Department of Education Office for Civl Rights, citing issues with locker rooms, facilities, housing and dining services, as well as financial assistance within the athletics department.

President Theobald told the Board of Trustees and coaches on the 7 cut teams of the investigation via a letter.

President Theobald said the letter was “not unexpected,” considering the University’s decision to cut 7 teams, two of which are women’s. The notice from the OCR said they will be investigating whether Temple is failing to provide equal athletic opportunity to female athletes compared to male athletes.

“What we don’t satisfy is an equal split of money according to the undergraduate population,” said Fred Turoff, the head coach of men’s gymnastic. “But you can move money around, you don’t have to cut programs.”

In fact, the Office of Civil Rights calls cutting programs to meet Title IX Standards a “disfavored practice” as it takes opportunities away from student athletes.

“What could end up happening is Temple could be forced to spend more money fixing facilities than they save by cutting these teams,” said Sue Borschel, a lawyer and mother of a student athlete on the women’s gymnastics team.

Temple’s main issue with Title IX lies in financial assistance. According to the Doe website, last year, male athletes at Temple received 58% of total scholarships, while female athletes were left at 42%. If all the scholarships from the men’s cut teams were given to women, those numbers would be adjusted to 51% men and 49% women.

Since female athletes at the Temple after the cuts will outnumber the male, the university will still not be Title IX compliant.

These percentages shown represent the numbers for duplicated athletes, meaning that if a student participates in more than one team, he is counted twice. For example, if an athlete compete in both cross country and track & field, his participation is counted twice.

Considering then the unduplicated numbers for student athletes post-cut, the female athletes still out number the male athletes, roughly 52% vs. 48%. Therefore, with the unduplicated participation, Temple will remain in tolerance, as they do now for financial assistance under Title IX.

The DOE has not responded as to which number is more important, however.

“One of the prongs is you’ve got to be making improvements,” said Borschel. “Well we clearly can’t survive that task because if you’re cutting programs, you’re not actually improving, right?”

According to the letter which President Theobald sent to the board of trustees, one of the issues, specifically with gymnastics, is that the men’s team shares a practice facility with the women’s team.

Turoff negated this, however, saying it is not a problem considering the teams have shared the facility since 1982 when the University asked him to standardized the gym for both men and women.

He said that 12 of 15 schools in the country who house both men’s and women’s teams share a practice facility.

As far as facility issues with baseball and softball, Theobald says there has been a recurring suggestion to use Cambell Field in Camden, which is owned by Rutgers.

11 of the baseball teams 20 home games this season are scheduled to be played at Campbell field, and Temple is paying $2,000 per game. The facility is not equipped, however, to house softball.

Another suggestion following the January 28th meeting where athletes and coaches of the 7 cut teams were given the chance to speak with administration regarding the cuts was to give the programs 5 years to reach self-sustainability.

In his letter, President Theobald estimates that until that point, an endowment of more than $60 million will be needed to generate the current operating costs for these programs.

Theobald says he looks forward to continue to discuss this issue later this month.

 

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